In 2000, telephone giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. filed a lawsuit against “pldt.com”, a website dedicated for free speech, for P 1.35 M in damages for use of domain name. The telecommunication company charged Gerry Kaimo, webmaster and registered owner of the domain name, and Philippines League for Democratic Telecommunications Inc. (PLDTI) for trademark infringement and engaging in unfair competition.
The telecommunication giant claimed that the said website has codes and meta tags that have led clients more to the “pldt.com” web site, whose contents articles, features, illustrations are derogatory and tend to discredit the telephone company.
On the other hand, Kaimo does not deny the fact that www.pldt.com does contain material unpalatable to PLDT. “I set up the site in December 1998 for the purpose of providing a vehicle to intensify public awareness on PLDT’s proposal for a mandatory local metering scheme”, he says. Furthermore, “pldt.com” has since evolved into a parody site, serving as a forum for expressing and ventilating consumer gripes and dissatisfaction with PLDT’s inefficient service, and venue for personal commentary and political satire on other burning issues. What Kaimo denies is PLDT’s allegations of unfair competition and tradename dilution in a deliberate attempt to confuse or deceive customers. He notes that he is not selling telephones or even profiting from the site. To distinguish it from the PLDT Web site, the non-commercial “pldt.com” site even carries this disclaimer: “100% Pure Pinoy: Unadulterated angst, pain, horror, tears, rumors, laughter and lies for the whole family or your money back”.
To PLDT though, “pldt.com” is anything but a free speech site, and its suit a suppression of the Constitutionally guaranteed right. “This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” Antonio Samson, PLDT executive vice chairman, says. “It is an unlawful appropriation and use of the PLDT trade name and a legitimate defense of a 71-year old company’s good name.
The landmark case was filed with the Quezon City Regional Trial court for Injunction and Damages (Intellectual Property Case: Unlawful use of Trade Name & Unfair Competition) against Kaimo and PLDTI.
In 2004, the ruling was issued with Judge Reynaldo Daway "After carefully considering and evaluating evidences presented during the hearing and after duly considering the documents adverted to and relevant pleadings including their respective memorandum in so far as they are pertinent to the issue under consideration, the Court finds that the plaintiff (PLDT) has not been able to show its entitlement to the relief prayed for," the court ruling stated.
Finally the domain and trade name dispute ended after six years in 2006 when PLDT decided to drop the case against Gerry Kaimo, owner of the "pldt.com" domain name, in exchange for the latter's agreement to turn over several domain names he owns.
II. Time Context
In 2000, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) took legal action and complaint to pldt.com which was a free speech site of the webmaster Gerardo Kaimo over a use of a domain name. The issue finally settled after 6 years when Kaimo agreed to turn over the contested domain.
III. Point of View
In doing this study, the group agreed on using the point of view of the Public Relation team of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) over the Philippines League for Democratic Telecommunications Inc. (PLDTI)
To assess the circumstances of the situation, we use the SILT combination.
It seems that the battle was not just between PLDT and pldt.com (PLDTI) but with the entire local internet community that express their speech and opinion through the use of website and the telecommunication company. Kaimo and his pldt.com created a venue for speech and opinions for the Internet users. So as they build a...